As their uneven sophomore record, Pieces of the People We Love, proved, after defining dance music circa 2003 (via Echoes), the Rapture are more concerned with creating a hazy atmosphere that evokes the club than with making music you can dance to. But at the same time, the band have also become obsessed with less-involved forms of moving bodies: They spent a block of time this summer touring on DJ dates, and compiled a !K7 mixtape titled Tapes.
Like Pieces, Tapes goes through the motions of dance music without ever delivering anything remotely danceable. The album’s 22 songs (probably 10 or 11 too many) never truly build up any momentum, and it plays like a too-long, left-field Girl Talk album, a veritable spot-the-song for dance-music geeks.
Dance institutions like Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk (“Club Soda”), Paul Johnson (“Get Down”) and Syclops (“Where’s Jason’s K”) are presented alongside less likely inclusions on the compilation (Ghostface’s “Daytona 500,” Don Armando’s Second Avenue Rumba Band “I’m an Indian Too,” and Richie Haven’s “Going Back to My Roots”) like they all are equally important to Tapes’ flow. Problem is, there is no flow. The songs are mixed to bleed into each other, but their BPMs and sonics make Tapes feel slapdash and a discordant mess.
Tapes likely won’t have any impact on the Rapture’s career (Hot Chip did an equally awful mix of their own, and they still exist), but it makes for the second straight album bearing the Rapture name that has been disappointing. But if these guys don’t back to what they do best (doing Talking Heads pastiche), they could have everyone dancing awkwardly out of their camp.